As Britain’s birdlife takes flight, skies of my youth are changing for ever

Birds that were once rare visitors to Britain are becoming a regular sight in England, but in Scotland, Arctic species are likely to vanish

Even though almost half a century has passed, I can still recall in vivid detail the events of a hot, sunny afternoon in August 1970. My mother and I were visiting Brownsea Island, off the Dorset coast. We entered a dark hide, opened the window and looked out across the lagoon. And there – shining like a beacon – was a Persil-white apparition: my first little egret.

Back then, this ghostly member of the heron family was a very rare visitor to Britain. Nowadays, little egrets are so numerous that we hardly give them a second glance. On my local patch, the Avalon Marshes in the heart of Somerset, I have seen up to 60 in a single feeding flock. And, according to the magazine British Birds, there are now more than 1,000 breeding pairs, as far north as the Scottish border [ . . . ] More at: As Britain’s birdlife takes flight, skies of my youth are changing for ever

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